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Clare Thom, Michele Clapton, Blitz Kids

Blitz Kid style 1980: Outside the Carburton Street squat, Clare-with-the-Hair and Michele Clapton-with-the-awesome repose. Photographed © by Derek Ridgers

Defining the Swinging Eighties

Because the people who write the MUSIC historY BOOKS usually weren’t there

“If we recast the 80s as a subcultural timeline, the ‘decade’ actually spanned six years. They began in June 1978 when David Bowie’s world tour hit the UK – rallying dispossessed punks and kindred music-loving nomads who came to recognise they were not alone.

“These Eighties ended in Dec 1984 with what remained for 13 years the biggest-selling single in UK pop-chart history, Do They Know It’s Christmas? This was an unprecedented act of charity through collaboration by 47 members of rival bands calling themselves Band Aid, who had risen on the same post-punk wave. They raised millions for the Ethiopian famine.

“Crucially, Band Aid confirmed a new British pop establishment of musical innovators. And coincidentally, it laid the foundations for Live Aid, the globally mounted fund-raising concert held in July 1985 and watched by 400 million viewers, across 60 countries.”

➢ Extracted from my analysis, The Blitz Kids and the birth of
the New Romantics, at The Observer Music Magazine


About Shapers of the 80s

❏ Except where specifically attributed to others, all text on this website is the work of David Johnson, a journalist based in London, who learnt his trade under the gifted and demanding editor Charles Wintour (yes, indeed, father of Anna) on the world’s most stimulating metropolitan newspaper, the Evening Standard (founded 1827) which had previously been credited with helping shape the Swinging Sixties. In the Seventies the Standard published six editions a day, six days a week, and was circulated throughout greater London, to Britain’s major provincial cities and a dozen international capitals.


Newsboy 1863-66, by Augustus Mulready © York Museums Trust

As a staffer at the Standard by day, Johnson edited a column on young London called On The Line, named after Eddy Grant’s 1979 hit Living On The Front Line.  By night, while freelancing for the edgy new magazines The Face and New Sounds New Styles, his forays into Britain’s gregarious world of youth culture yielded such unrepeatable reportage that it soon made sense to carry a camera and snap for the moment. The results established his monthly review of UK nightlife in those style magazines long before there were enough club-nights to warrant listings in city events guides. Simultaneously our hack was also moonlighting and editing the twice-weekly music pages of a national newspaper which shall remain nameless, but was shrewd enough to dedicate one of those pages to dance music.

Evidently, for about five years, he didn’t get much sleep but did produce the stuff you find online here today. All of which would, let’s hope, meet with Charles’s liberal-minded expectations. His catchphrase was: “Ferchrissakegetitright!” Do feel free to disagree with this previously untold slice of subcultural history. Johnson couldn’t be everywhere at once.

What’s hot at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley , Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the Wham video by reading this cover story on Club Culture first published in The Face in 1983 and now the No 2 read at Shapers of the 80s!

➢ Now in its sixth year, Shapers of the 80s has attracted a total of 926,500 views since its launch, according to year-ending stats measured by our host, WordPress, at the end of 2014. Our most popular feature was published in 2010. Read it by clicking HERE . . .

➢ Click HERE for our second most widely read feature which explains the explosion in UK club culture in 1983 – much enhanced from my original research first published in The Face No 34

➢ Averaging 207,963 visits to Shapers of the 80s annually during 2013 – click to discover the 20 most read feature articles of all

➢ Visits to Shapers of the 80s averaged 5,200 per week during 2012 … Read how modest Midge Ure wrote the biggest selling pop single of his generation

➢ Visitor numbers to Shapers of the 80s doubled during 2011 — best for Blitz Kid photos and eye-witness memories

➢ Most popular bits of Shapers of the 80s during 2010 — among the top stories in May 2010 we had original Blitz Kids discussing “How real did 1980 feel in the TV drama about Boy George?”


Nick Knight, 1985, Almond, Strongman, Egan, Strange, Caryn Franklin

“People of the 80s”: for i-D magazine’s fifth anniversary, 100 were photographed in 1985 © by Nick Knight. Top left, pop singer Marc Almond, deejay and journalist Jay Strongman, club entrepreneur Rusty Egan, singer and club entrepreneur, Steve Strange, fashion editor Caryn Franklin and club entrepreneur Nick Trulocke. Finally, some hack from the London Evening Standard

➢ More on Nick Knight’s shoot here at Shapers of the 80s



❏ Shapers of the 80s is declared an “invaluable website” by historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of the rich new cultural analysis, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974–1979. We report how Sandbrook gives generous credit to key influencers on youth culture. His unstuffy combination of high and low life energised the BBC2 series The Seventies aired in 2012.

❏ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s, telly don Simon Schama succinctly expresses why we should document the “irreverent freedom” that is a special aspect of life in Britain.



❏ If you wish to correct any misinformation on this site then please mail to contact [a t] shapersofthe80s.com

All text on this site, except where otherwise attributed
© 1978–2016 Shapersofthe80s. All rights reserved.
If you wish to quote from text here, please attribute it to the source, like this:
[Quoted from Shapersofthe80s.com]

❏ This not-for-profit website respects copyright, and where possible will always try to seek permission and give credit to a photographer’s work. If you see any images here to which you own the rights and wish them to be removed, you have only to ask.

❏ Whenever you recycle any picture for your own use, always credit the photographer. That way you help advertise their talent and maintain their reputation. The internet has made it almost impossible to collect the reproduction fees they are entitled to. In the past many have depended on those fees for their livelihood.



NY81-dj,sb ➢ Above: The first Blitz invasion of the US spearheaded by Spandau Ballet in 1981. Yours Truly was there to cover it

Cheers, Steve

Cheers Steve!

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer.



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